Wednesday, September 16, 2020
The Trump campaign has tried to reassure its supporters and financiers that nothing is amiss. According to a senior adviser to the campaign not authorized to speak on the record, campaign manager Bill Stepien has told prominent Republican financiers that the campaign is spending far more this cycle on an aggressive ground game that didn't exist in 2016. The campaign has 280 offices throughout the country, a number that dwarfs the Biden operation. They also believe their campaign is more data-driven than Biden's, allowing it to identify and contact potential Trump supporters. Stepien told nervous Republicans that the campaign continues to outspend Biden in online advertising. It spent nearly $60 million in August and the first week of September, compared to $43 million for Biden.
The campaign official notes that despite going dark in Pennsylvania for more than a month—and being outspent in virtually every other key battleground state— the polls have held steady or even improved for Trump. Biden's lead in Pennsylvania is 4.3 percent, according to an aggregation of several polls by Real Clear Politics. His overall margin in the battleground states that will determine the election's outcome is 3.7 percent, just outside the margin of error, according to RCP.
The Trump campaign believes its emphasis on ''law and order" in the wake of this summer's urban unrest has put Biden on the defensive. After the virtual Democratic convention ignored the rioting in several major American cities, the Trump campaign responded both on the airwaves and at its own virtual convention, battering Biden for being weak on crime. It sent direct messages to supporters' cellphones, saying the riots were coming to the suburbs. Biden responded. On August 31, he gave a speech in Pittsburgh in which he condemned the rioting, and on September 2, the campaign turned that speech into an ad, entitled "Be Not Afraid." ''Rioting is not protesting, looting is not protesting, and those that do it should be prosecuted," Biden says before blaming the unrest on Trump. The ad concludes with Biden saying, "As president I'd be looking to lower the temperature in this country, not raise it." The Trump campaign official acknowledges the ad was effective—but showed "we were drawing blood on law and order."